Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bethany Bullet - March 23, 2013

A famous musician once asked his chauffeur, “How have you been?” 

What was the response? “Oh, working hard, working 8 days a week!”

The musicians name? John Lennon, and, as the story goes, this phrase found its way into the 7th number 1 hit single from music giants The Beatles.
Ooh I need your love babe,
Guess you know it's true.
Hope you need my love babe,
Just like I need you.
Hold me, love me, hold me, love me.
Ain't got nothin'but love babe,
Eight days a week.

Boy the weeks in Lent sure feel like they are at least eight days long.  It seems as if we will never get to the end, to the celebration, to the party, to…EASTER!

But today, Palm Sunday begins the final journey.  It might be right to say there are eight days THIS week.

We are only a week away from the most important day in the history of Christianity. In eight days the celebration will begin, the stone will be rolled away, the tomb will be empty, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

There are eight days this week, and some of the lyrics from this song will serve as our theme for the next few times we will be gathered into this place, into His house, to see how much he cares, how Jesus ain’t got nothin’but love, and that he loves us all the time. 

The Gospel writer John describes the events of Palm Sunday in his 12th chapter. Let me set the scene for you. It was Passover week in Jerusalem and the crowds were gathering. Think about Disneyland in the middle of the summer and you will begin to understand. Jesus has told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem; that He would suffer and that He would die, but the disciples didn’t really seem to get it. 

As Jesus enters the city there is a parade.  Jesus and His disciples were in Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem and as they began the journey they encounter a great crowd.

Next is the praise. The crowd gathers palm branches to wave and shout, “Hosanna!” a word that means- salvation, or save us, or just save, I pray. 

The crowd is ready to crown Jesus King as they use words from Psalm 118, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Then there is the prophecy.  Jesus fulfills the words of the prophet Zechariah as He continues the parade riding on a donkey, and the disciples just don’t seem to get it.

Next we see the popularity.  Many in the crowd had been there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so our text says.  Perhaps many had been with Jesus before. I wonder if there were some who were fed along with the 5,000, or lepers who were healed, or blind that could now see, or lame that could walk; the Crowd ain’t got nothin’ but love for Jesus, on the first day this week.

The people have had the loaves, now they want a leader, a King. Is their praise genuine, or will they say anything to get something? Were they hoping for a handout? Are these just empty words to fill empty hopes, empty souls, or empty bellies? 

They ain’t got nothin’ but love, as long as they are getting something in return.

It is a common human response. As long as there is something in it for us we are motivated to act. 
·         We too, love a parade. We love to parade around feeling important, looking good in front of others. 
·         We give praise to anything that makes us feel good.  We are not looking for salvation, but for personal acclimation. 
·         We have followed false prophets or political pundits and we ride around with attitudes that are anything but humble.
·         We live for popularity and the potential riches that it brings.

We would be more comfortable riding into town for a Roman Triumph, something the occupying forces in Jerusalem knew all about.

The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or successfully completed a foreign war. Only the Roman Senate could grant a triumph.

On the day of his triumph, the general wore regalia that identified him as near-divine or near-kingly, and a laurel wreath was held above his head. He rode in a chariot through the streets of Rome with his army and the spoils of his war. At Jupiter's temple on the Capitoline Hill he offered sacrifice and the tokens of his victory to the god. Thereafter he had the right to be described as man of triumph" for the rest of his life.

Now this, this is something that appeals to our human nature. Riding into town on a donkey? Forget about it!!  The Romans there must have laughed at the sight.

But Jesus rode into town in humble fashion, before the real conflict of the week even began.  He was identified as divine and kingly with palm branches held above His head. His arms prepared to carry the cross, to ascend a hill called Calvary to be the sacrifice to God and bring victory. 

As Jesus enters the city that day, he already is a man of triumph. In himself He brought victory over sin, death and the devil. 

“But he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:7-11)

Christ the humble King rides into town on a lowly donkey. He was getting ready for a battle, not returning from one.  He was willing to die so that you can live.  Jesus aint’t got nothin’ but love for you and for me. 

But soon the pomp and circumstance of Palm Sunday would be over. 
·         When the noise died down, somebody had to pick up the litter, the palm branches strewn about, and the cloaks upon the road. 
·         When the noise died down, Jesus was alone - but in another sense he was not alone. He was in the center of His Father’s will. 
·         When the noise died down, Jesus knew that He would have to suffer and die before another Sunday came.
Many came to see the Messiah riding into town. Many had their own ideas of what the Messiah - King would be. Some thought He would be the one who would drive the Romans from the land; others thought He would be the royal king, like David, one who would give guidance to their lives, and still others who thought the Messiah was there to fill their bellies once again. 

Jesus understood all the different thoughts that people had about him. Palm Sunday is the day when, knowing that people are fickle, get tired of parades and go home - Jesus came riding.

It s a day when, knowing that religious leaders dislike those who oppose them and look for a ways to kill the opposition - Jesus came riding.

It s a day when, knowing that the humble king will be disowned, knowing that one will sell his souls for a handful of silver, knowing that even good friends will run away and abandon him, it s a day when knowing all this - Jesus came riding.

Knowing that the crowd will turn against Him on Good Friday - he came riding anyway.

Knowing that even his most trusted disciples could not stay awake in the garden as He prayed for strength to endure the cross - Jesus came riding.

Knowing that He would be mocked and beaten, spit upon, humiliated, tortured, and disgraced - Jesus came riding.

Jesus came riding because he ain’t got nothing but love, not just eight days this week, but for all the days of our lives.  He knew that all of his children need Him to ride into our lives as the loving Messiah - king who would save us from the power of hell through his resurrection on Easter Sunday.  He is the true man of triumph!

He came riding because he knew exactly what we need. 

He came riding in the midst of our sin and he died for us.

Oh, we need his love, yes we know it’s true.  Hold me, love me, hold me, love me, because he ain’t got nothin’ but love, Eight days this week. 

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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